Hey, You, Comrade!

We began running our popular "Hey You!" series back in 1998, and over the years, the missives we've received from anonymous readers have most often dealt with three common experiences—driving, love and work (a surprising number deal with inappropriate farting and vomiting). We've already run a retrospective of driving "Hey You!"s—which garnered us a Pulitzer and a Daytime Emmy—and we'll no doubt run a gaggle of lovelorn "Hey You!"s the next Valentine's Day we have nothing else to publish. This being the week of Labor Day—Happy Gompers Day, comrade!—we decided to cobble together a working "Hey You!" We could easily have run twice as many as the 15 you'll find below, but in these 15, you'll find the spectrum of the work experience—horrific bosses, horrific co-workers, horrific customers, horrific restroom conditions and, yes, inappropriate farting and vomiting.

Illustrations by Bob Aul

March 26, 2004
I remember the day you first brought your new Jag to my garage like the rest of the world will remember Sept. 11. You are a curse. You are my suicide bomber. Nothing has ever been right with your $120,000 car—the radio seems less clear than a friend's, the paint less shiny, the tires less round, the ride too rough, the steering wheel too small, the seats too hard, the engine too loud, the windows not quite clear, the pedals too rough on the soles of your Pradas. And while my guys work in vain to find a solution to problems that exist only inside your fucking head, you yell at us—or yell at your underlings over your cell phone. You're "very important," you tell me. Your car is "very important." Your business? "Very important." And that's when you're whining about the little shit. You nearly blew a fucking artery when a real problem turned up and your Jag wouldn't start. "I'm too important for this kind of shit," you yelled at me. It took me about two minutes to figure out the problem: you're so important that you couldn't afford the time to see you were pumping your very important car with diesel fuel. On the one hand, it killed me to see a fine machine treated that way—like seeing a fine horse whipped by an especially cruel hand. On the other hand, it happened to you, and it's going to cost you about 10 grand.

May 5, 2000
Hey, Dickhead: nice meeting you at the company party last week. Nice to have you introduce me and my girlfriend to your wife. Nice to see you send your wife home early "to relieve the baby sitter." (Nice to have a wife who can't see what the hell's going on!) Nice to have you introduce me to someone I "just have to talk to." Nice to have you leave me with that guy and guide my girlfriend to another part of the restaurant. Nice to see you leaning over her and whispering in her ear. Nice to see you grab her by the arm and guide her outside where the two of you could "hear better." (Nice that you forgot that glass is transparent.) Nice to hear later that you told her she looked "really fine" and that you couldn't understand why she's with a loser like me. Nice to hear that you could "help" her career along if she were really interested in working more closely with you. Really, really nice to have that friend of yours turn around to see what I was staring at so intently: you trying to kiss my girlfriend and my girlfriend pushing you away. Forcibly. Nice to have witnesses there. Nice to know you threatened to make her "pay" if she told anybody you propositioned her. Nice to be able to tell you this: she already has. Now what are you going to do about it?

Aug. 9, 2002
Me: just a temp filling in for the guy going on vacation. You: the most vile, obnoxious, repulsive, vulgar co-worker imaginable, a woman who makes drunken sailors sound like choir boys at the church altar. I was fortunate enough to work with my back to you, Countess Hagula, but your voice was set on 11. "What the fuck is this?" "I'm tired of this shit." "That chick is a cunt." "My husband is a lazy bastard." "I sneezed so hard my pants are wet." "I'm going to pee, then blow my nose, in that order." When you announced you were "on the rag," I broke. After four eight-hour shifts under your tyrannical rule, I went Norma Rae on your ass. You received a closed-door session with HR. If it had been me, the moment I said one curse word, I would have been out of a job. But I'm just a temp.

Feb. 14, 2003
Remember me, you mortgage-lending FUCK? I'm the girl you hired straight out of the university to become your "right-hand person," the girl who was so excited to land a fantastic job on the central coast from a guy whose company is based in Orange County, my hometown. Why didn't I read through to your cheesy sexual intentions from the start? Because I could never imagine that someone could be so outright slimy—especially since you had a beautiful wife and four darling children (all under the age of 6!!) ensconced within a few blocks of your office/second home. Remember how you tried to get me into shorts and a tank top before you dragged me to a local nude beach—all in the name of "surveying the land" around your house? Or how you tried to woo me with a membership to a local spa? Or better yet, when you suggested that we have massages together? Still stupid, I traveled down to OC with you for some business meetings at headquarters. I should have paid attention to a big sign: your employees acting like I was the current flavor on the employee roster. What really capped it, though, was when you put me in your company's condo that night and said you were going to stay in a local hotel. Then you pathetically come knocking on the door at 11 p.m. to say you can't find a room and that you are going to stay in the other bedroom. I let you in. You begin to whine about how lonely you are, how your wife doesn't understand you, and how my boyfriend is so wrong for me. Finally—finally!—a light shines bright in my head as I look into your oily, pathetically desperate face. It was good advice you gave me to lock my bedroom door that night—good but needless. Damn, it was great when the next "right-hand girl" discovered my phone number and the letter from my lawyer and had a hunch that I had been sexually harassed, just as she was. That was quite a boon for my case, and your guilty ass caved. I have always wanted to thank you for the 35 Gs and the trip to Costa Rica. My husband and I had a fan-fucking-tastic time, all in your name, you wretched EMPLOYEE FUCKER!!

March 7, 2003
I understand that we men are a foul, disgusting and sometimes flat-out inhumane crew, but the latest shitstorm you left in our office bathroom put us in a virtual tie with Trainspotting's "worst bathroom in Scotland." You know who you are, you sick fuck, and I beg you to stop leaving the ass grenades! We've all considered walking away from a foot-long basket of snakes or a perfectly dry-docked 2-pound stick of butter with a grin on our faces. But we flush anyway. You, however, have made this your personal weekly calling card, you stinky bastard. After leaving numerous colon scuds in our shitter (I swear, one was the size of a Coors Light tall boy), the other day, you left the shitstorm of the century. I could smell it before I got within 10 feet of the door, and as I walked in, I was freight-trained by an odor that steamy dog shit would laugh at! As if that wasn't enough, apparently you had to shit so bad you didn't even have time to sit your country ass down. The crapper looked like something spray-creted with a fire hose! I will tip my hat to your latest poo Picasso only because you must have had to eat pickled eggs, spoiled corned-beef hash and carrots for a week before delivering it. It's time to give up on this carny sideshow—now. So far, no one has put a face to your work, but all sloppy criminals end up getting caught, and you are going to be next. One of these days, someone's going to walk in on you trying to bail the scene, and then the entire three-story building—comprised mostly of nasally sensitive women—is going to know you are the Ass Bandit. Hey, show us poor bastards a little fucking mercy and at least give us a courtesy flush once in a while, you shit-stained little bitch.

Jan. 7, 2005
As a favor to your parents—who are my friends and who love you dearly—I began seeing the three of you for free in my therapy practice. You were out of control, and their only next step seemed to be to call the police and have you hauled out of their house in handcuffs. But it was your senior year of high school, and they wanted to do the right thing. I intervened. My mistake was in seeing you separately. When I pushed your parents to take a tougher line with you on drugs and sex—like, maybe, refusing to allow you to ball your boyfriends while whiffing eight-balls as they watched Jan and Paul Crouch in the next room—you played your ace. You told me if I didn't back off, you'd tell your parents I molested you in our private sessions. I have to admit a part of me was tempted to call your bluff, to say something like, "If I'm going to be blamed for it, I might as well do it." Instead, I reminded you that you had signed a waiver allowing me to tape all of our conversations—including this one. "Kind of like Nixon," you said. "Smart girl," I said, "except in this case, you're the criminal." I bluffed a little myself at that moment, suggesting I might turn the tape over to a friend in the district attorney's office. I said it'd be interesting what they'd do with you, given how they'd handled that Haidl kid. You backed off. You've become an angel. I hear you're getting straight A's in college and that you make your bed every day. Good girl. Good, good girl. I still have the tape.

Feb. 4, 2000
I'm a college student supporting myself by doing some modeling work here and there. You're a trade-show promoter. I had the unfortunate displeasure of modeling wedding gowns at your show on a recent Sunday. It was really bad enough that you repeatedly walked into the models' changing room—quickly glancing around like a rat. I counted 12 trips into the changing room in 15 minutes. The other girls apparently know that you do this all the time. Their nickname for you is "Mayor McSleaze." If your peeping wasn't bad enough, your offer to "get together" with me "in private" to "talk about my modeling career" was creepy enough to make my skin crawl. Almost as creepy as when I met your wife and your 8-year-old daughter. Your wife has that "last to know," dimwitted look. No thanks, Mayor McSleaze, I won't model this coming Sunday or any other Sunday for you. You're sick—get help!

Sept. 24, 2004
Hey, you: Remember me? The girl hosting her first garage sale? You were that crabby little lady in the straw hat who insulted me. Your sour little face has festered in my memory for quite a while, and I feel it's time to give a little shout-out. All I wanted was to have a happy little garage sale and make some dashboard cash. You created a war zone of bargaining and merchandise appraisal. It wasn't the stock exchange, sweetheart. You should have bought the Christmas ornament for 25 cents or left me the hell alone. But no, not you. You had to inspect my leftover college crap with a disgusted grunt. You bargained with me on every little knickknack down to the penny, just to see how low you could go, and then you refused to buy anything. Finally, after 30 minutes of watching me suffer, you bought a stupid little basket with some fake flowers for $1. One stinking dollar. Sensing victory close at hand, you then held up a pair of unused post-its and demanded, "You give me these for free!" I was through bargaining with you. I said, "You know what? Sure. Take them and enjoy." Your beady eyes narrowed, and you smiled like you won the lotto. You took the post-its and the basket and waved them in front of my face, pronouncing loudly for the benefit of everyone there, "You're a sucker!" My boyfriend laughed. I didn't. I had the momentary fantasy of shoving the dollar bill right up your ass. But being the gregarious person I am, I didn't say a word, just politely smiled as you trundled off with your new keepsakes. Do you know why I smiled? That basket I sold you used to be my dog's favorite hump toy. Now go wash your hands, bitch.

March 24, 2000
5 p.m.: We were leaving the Mission Viejo post office when you came running in with both arms stacked high with stuff to mail. Trouble was it was closed, and the post-office employee had already locked you out. What ensued was a pathetic scene that would have earned most children a good ear boxing for the same behavior. At first you howled in disbelief about the door being closed—but you quickly pounced on the employee behind the door, who was only trying to let those of us already finished with our business leave. "Please, man, pleeeeeeease," you begged. "I'LL GET FIRED IF THESE DON'T GET OUT!" Nope, said the employee. It was 5 o'clock—whatever it was, you would have to bring it back tomorrow. Seeing that you had not gained any ground, you pulled out all the stops and resorted to more begging and even threats: "C'mon, man, pleeeeeease! Do the right thing," and my personal favorite, "C'mon, do the American thing." Sir, what the fuck were you talking about? Is catering to assholes the "American thing"? Still no luck, and then you yelled, "This is why people blow up post offices!" Finally the employee let you in—probably out of fear for his life—but he shouldn't have. You acted like a complete jerk. I'm pretty sure the part about getting fired was a lie, but even if it wasn't, you surely would have deserved it.

April 11, 2003
Hey, you! The latest in a series of dental assistants at the creepy office next door. You have TWO bathrooms in your suite, but every day at 12:45 p.m. you transform the public restroom on our floor into your vomitorium. We don't have the luxury of a restroom in our suite, yet every time I'm able to sneak away for a quick lunchtime tinkle, I have to wait by the door for 10 minutes and listen to you try to mask the sounds of regurgitation with running water. And for God's sake, clean up after yourself. And please, next time, hold the anchovies. The teeny bones on the wallpaper really gross me out. It's bad enough that Mrs. J uses the same bathroom as a dumpsite for her triplets' absolutely toxic diapers—hey, why change them at your Harbor Island home and smell up YOUR OWN house when you can share it with us? After all, we're only 45K employees! We're here to serve YOU! Give us more, we LOVE it!

June 10, 2005
Hey you, the slimy school principal with a gambling problem who insisted to parents and staff that more than $2,000 was stolen from the school this year, just like it was last year, even though you and your kiss-ass secretary are the only ones with the combination. In your desperate Arnold-like bid to consolidate your power and crush the morale of the teachers at the school, you decreed that educators could no longer vote for teacher of the year. You and your "management team" would choose someone from on high. Apparently, democratic elections are anathema to your management style. The thing is, one of your criteria for selection is a requirement that the teacher sign the ridiculous loyalty oath you posted. Don't you know loyalty oaths went out in the '50s, dickhead? Just like your hairstyle? In fact, aren't they illegal? By the way, behind your back, your stomach-stapled secretary tells anyone who will listen that she is really running the school. Maybe she is. Maybe that's why it's so fucked up.

April 8, 2005
Me: the frequent female patron of the bar. You: the Napoleon-syndrome bouncer who kicked me out. I'm always at that bar, and when I am there and see a group of guys sitting around the only hallway through the place, constantly harassing all the girls by grabbing their asses and mimicking jerking off, I have the right to get pissed! Any place would have thrown those assholes out, but you, with your giant ego, kicked me out because I had no right to speak since I didn't walk through to get my ass grabbed and because those guys are paying customers. I hadn't realized I wasn't a paying customer! I guess I should bring in all my receipts for reimbursement. And I call bullshit on you claiming you would think it funny if they did that to your girlfriend! You really are a pencil-dick prick!

Nov. 26, 2004
Working in a packed-with-cubicles office, and after an especially spicy lunch, one must carefully pick and choose places to pass the proverbial gas. Anywhere within the workspace would be downright rude. The men's room would seem a natural outpost, but what to do when the stalls are occupied? No, the best place is the underground parking garage: it's usually people-free; if someone is there, the gentle hum of his or her engine—or loud racket from the car stereo—drowns out rectal blasts; and—most important—gas rises, jettisoning any offending odors up to the rafters. And there's a bonus to consider while walking to the car for the ride home: drivers prefer gas stay in the tank and not the driving compartment—at least drivers un-enamored by the smell of their own farts. But sadly, there is a contingency I never planned for, and that is why I am now apologizing to you, tall dark stranger in the German performance car. Because your German performance car's windows are tinted and its engine is so quiet, I thought I was alone again in the garage while walking to my Tercel. Unfortunately and quite unintentionally, I released the gastric buildup created by my zesty chicken-stew lunch—extra Tapatio—at the precise moment I reached your partially rolled-down driver's-side window. That would put my butt cheeks mere inches from your nostrils at the exact moment Mount St. Hector blew. Amazingly, you did not immediately speed off in a huff; you waited a few seconds, as if stunned by the indignity and air-choking fumes. If it makes you feel any better, please know that one human being was left feeling much healthier for this unfortunate encounter.

July 30, 2004
Our spirits are crushed, one chubby, middle-aged coupon clipper at a time. On my first day at Albertsons, the biggest blow to my self-esteem wasn't the "Welcome to Team Albertsons!" indoctrination video I had to watch. It wasn't the apron I had to wear, or my manager's incessant reminders that I'd be earning minimum wage. I figured on all of that. It was my encounter with you that caught me off-guard. I was cleaning Aisle 4 when you approached me, squinted at my name badge and screeched, "Where's the prune juice?" I was supposed to follow the procedure outlined in our employee training video and lead you to the juice, grinning like a lizard. There was just one problem: we were already in the juice aisle—hence the sign above our heads reading "Aisle 4: Juice"—and you were standing right next to the prune juice. All I could do was sigh, walk a few steps to my right, slide a bottle off the shelf and silently hand it to you. Thanks for shopping Albertsons—and for reaffirming the futility of my job.

Jan. 25, 2001
I don't know if there's an afterlife, but if there is, and if you can still pick up newspapers, please read this. None of us knew you were suffering. Maybe we were deaf and blind to obvious signs, but you must admit you did a great job hiding your pain. And when the end came, when you left your body where others would find it hanging like a big question mark, well, "surprise" can't even begin to describe how we felt. And we were just co-workers. Your kids? They're like zombies. Your spouse? I haven't even seen your spouse in weeks. You took a little bit of all of us with you when you went down. Sure, you could have brought a gun to the office and cleaned us all out; instead, you took just a part of each of us—not because we loved you so much, but because it turns out we hardly knew you. How many other "friends" and "loved ones" are really just strangers to us? How many of them—apparently happy—are contemplating the same sort of death? How many of them are actually planning it right now as they sit near me? If there's an afterlife, and if you can still hear us, then hear this: Where's the suffering? And what should we do about it?


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